UK's playing style a work in progress on eve of Blue-White Scrimmage

Blue-White Scrimmage won't reveal what's in store for season

jtipton@herald-leader.comOctober 26, 2011 

  • Wednesday

    Blue-White Scrimmage

    When: 7 p.m.

    Where: Rupp Arena

    Tickets: $10

    TV: Fox Sports South, CWKYT-5

    Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1

Fans intending to use the Blue-White Scrimmage to determine how Kentucky will play this season should find another reason to be in Rupp Arena on Wednesday night.

When asked Tuesday about UK's playing style this coming season, forward Terrence Jones said, "We can't say yet. Especially with the way Coach Cal coaches. He thinks of something different every night."

Coach John Calipari mused about pick-and-roll and dribble-drive offenses, one press alignment already shelved and even the (remote?) possibility of a zone as Kentucky's primary defense.

"I'm not here to say, 'You just watch me coach, this is how my teams always play, and it's Cal Ball,'" he said without referencing any past UK coaches who identified with one style of play.

Noting a similar approach last season, Calipari said Kentucky's coaches will adopt and adapt playing styles as the season unfolds.

For instance, the pick-and-roll offense contradicts Calipari's signature dribble-drive. The bringing of a screener to the point guard also adds another defender to potentially blunt drives to the basket. The last thing UK wanted with John Wall as point guard was loitering defenders in the lane.

Yet Doron Lamb, who apparently is getting a long look as backup point guard, said the Cats practice pick-and-roll plays routinely. Calipari suggested pick-and-roll action might be a way for UK to initiate its dribble-drive. He also told reporters that the experience of coaching the Dominican Republic National Team this summer opened his eyes to possibilities.

"Believe me, I learned a ton of things on that trip," he said of the Dominican team playing in an Olympic-qualifying event in Argentina. "It was well worth it."

Coincidentally or not, with the fall signing period beginning early next month, Calipari also noted how he shares ideas with NBA personnel who come to Kentucky practices.

The look at pick-and-roll action also freshens a coach's mind, Calipari said. "You have the same lesson plan for 10 years, you kind of get bored with it," he said.

Calipari suggested that whatever style it uses, Kentucky is off to a good start. As an apparent hedge against peaking too soon, the UK coach noted how he's backed off a bit in practice.

"I don't want us playing like it's December when it's October," he said.

The players are bringing sufficient zeal.

"I know I'm not coaching any effort," Calipari said. "I'm not coaching intensity (or) enthusiasm."

Occasionally, he might correct freshmen for taking ill-advised shots. But that's about it.

"I haven't said boo to Darius (Miller)," he said. "I haven't said boo to Terrence."

As part of the in-season learning process, Calipari said he will be observing what cannot be deciphered in a practice. Only games can show how players react to atmosphere and the pressures of winning.

"When it hits, when the squeeze is on, who are the guys that I've got to have on the court?" Calipari said. "... Believe me, we're going to be in those pressure-packed games."

As for the Blue-White Scrimmage, Lamb said the game can show fans "we got better."

Jones noted how the Blue-White Scrimmage can serve as another means of meshing individuals into a unit.

As for what's known at this early stage, Calipari said the Cats will play hard, be unselfish and be effective in transition.

"We'll do it together and you'll have fun watching us," he said. "Short of that, we'll just be trying to figure it out."

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